Grandma’s Really Old, Old Fashioned Recipes by Mary M. Forbes and Nola D. McGill

We grew up on a farm in Northern Saskatchewan and find it astonishing the meals our mother served sometimes with just flour, eggs and water. Some of these recipes are difficult and require a lot of time to make, but surprisingly many are fast and simple and amazingly delicious.

This is not an elaborate cookbook, but a few unique recipes made by our mother. This book is dedicated to Mrs. Emma Miller. We think of you always and are trying our best (well Nola is anyway) to be remembered, as you are – as fabulous, innovative cooks.

In Loving Memory of our beloved mother: Emma Edith Miller (Frey).

Our Mom, Emma Miller
Our Mom, Emma Miller


Soups and Salads

beet soup potato salad

Borcst (Beet Soup)

  • Soup bones
  • Onion
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • ½ head cabbage (grated)
  • 8 beets (grated)
  • 4 carrots (grated)
  • 2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Pepper
  • 1 tsp. Garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 pint cream
  • 1 can tomatoes

Boil soup bones covered with water. (simmer 3 – 4 hours) with onion and bay leaf. Strain. Add vegetables and tomatoes. Continue to simmer 3 – 4 hours. Add cream. Let heat 10 – 15 minutes.

Potato Soup

  1. Brown onion and celery in butter.
  2. Add diced potatoes and cover with water.
  3. When potatoes are soft, mash up.


  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • garlic, basil, parsley to taste

(this was Aunt Nora – dad’s sister’s recipe)

Cabbage Salad

  • ½ head of cabbage
  • ½ Medium Onion, grated
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Grate cabbage. Combine all other ingredients. Mix with cabbage.

Marinated Cucumbers

In a bowl:

  • 3 cucumbers thinly sliced. You can leave on peeling if desired.

In a large measuring cup:

  • 3/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill weed
  • a pinch of sugar
  • salt
  • pepper

Pour ingredients of measuring cup over slices and let marinate for at least 1/2 hour before serving. Stir occasionally.


Shred cabbage, put layers in crock. Sprinkle on Salt.  Stump (with wooden potato masher) till juice comes.  Add more layers of cabbage and salt. Let set & sour 7 days or till juice forms and ferments.  Bring to boil in hot water. Boil 15 minutes. Pack into jars. Seal and store.

(TIP: – Best to do this in the fall before it freezes.  Keep in garage.  Mixture shouldn’t freeze and shouldn’t be warm.)

 Mom’s Pickled Beets

2 pounds of beets – boiled with tails and 2 inches of stem. Remove skin and slice. Boil 1 tablespoon of fresh pickling spice in 2 cups of water for 15 minutes (covered). Pack into clean, sterilized jars.

Boil together:

  • 1 cup of vinegar
  • 3/4 cup of pickling spice water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Sterilize lids and rings, then pour liquid over beets and seal.

 Potato Salad

  • 6 boiled potatoes (with skin on)
  • 1 stalk washed celery
  • 1 small diced onion or 3 green onions, sliced thinly
  • oil
  • white vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cool the boiled potatoes then cubed or slice thickly. Add sliced celery, onion and equal parts oil and vinegar. I start with one of each and add until I find the right combination. Add salt and pepper to taste.

My sister also adds thin slices of radish just before serving.

Let cool in the fridge, stirring occasionally, and serve with the meal.

Saskatchewan Farm Pickles


  • 3 quarts cucumbers
  • 1 quart small onions (to peel, put onions in a bowl with boiling water and let sit for 5 minutes)
  • 1/2 cup pickling salt dissolved in water

Wash the cucumbers and peel the onions. Put cucumbers, onions and salt in a large pot (or the sink) overnight. In the morning drain and rinse cucumbers and onions with cold water. Slice the cucumbers thinly. Sterilize clean jars and lids.


  • 1 quart vinegar
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seed
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed

Mix vinegar, sugar, mustard seed, turmeric and celery seed in a large pot and bring to a boil. Add vegetables and simmer 5 minutes. Put in hot sterilized jars and seal immediately.


Special Gravies, Sauces and Meat Dishes


Secret Gravy

Sprinkle one package of Lipton’s onion soup over any meat (roast, turkey, etc.) and spice to taste – salt, pepper, garlic, basil, etc.

When meat is cooked, strain juices then return juices to pan.

In a jar mix:

  • 2 tablespoon drippings
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon Bisto
  • 1 cup water


Bring juices in pan to boil. Add Bisto mixture. Stir until thickened.

 Secret Stuffing

  • 1 – 2 loaves white bread
  • 2 medium onions
  • salt, pepper & garlic salt, poultry seasoning to taste
  • chicken broth (about ½ cup)

Grind up bread coarsely. (use a food processor if desired). Crush onions in food processor. Mix with bread. Salt, pepper & garlic to taste. 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning. A dash of Cajun spices, 1 teaspoon basil, 1 – 2 eggs. Mix together.

Optional: Fry a few slices of bacon until very crisp. Crumble and add to stuffing.

 Homemade Sausage*

You need:

  • Meat grinder
  • Casings – (check with a butcher)
  • 5 lbs. Ground pork
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons garlic

Put in casing. Smoke 40 minutes to one hour.

Curing Ham and Bacon*


  • 3 – 4 cups non-iodized salt
  • 1 tablespoon salt peter (for color)
  • handful of pickling spices

Cook ingredients with enough water to melt salt. Cool. Pour over meat (placed in a crock or barrel) Keep covered in cool area. Turn meat in two days.

It takes 5 – 6 days to cure a ham and 2 – 3 days to cure bacon.

Smoke meat. Ham – ¾ hr. Bacon – 2 hours.

*The two recipes mentioned above will seem like a lot of work, but these smoked meats are guaranteed to taste so much better. Since most people no longer have smokehouses, many meat cutting places will let you smoke your meat in their store.

Cream Chicken

  • 1-frying chicken – cut up
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 medium onion
  • butter to fry chicken
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1 pint whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons flour

Sauté onion in butter. Add chicken pieces and season with salt, pepper, garlic and sugar. Frying until brown. Remove chicken to plate.

In whipping cream container add vinegar and flour. Shake well. Stir mixture into frying pan. Cook until hot. (Do not boil). Return chicken to cream mixture.

Suggested Serving: Serve with whipped potatoes and homemade bread.

Ham, Sauerkraut and Potatoes

  1. Boil a large ham for 2 – 3 hours (keep juices)
  2. Boil potatoes & drain
  3. Heat up sauerkraut

Cut slices of ham into small pieces. Mash ham, potatoes and sauerkraut together on plate. Pour cooked ham juice over mixture.

Stuffed Spare-Ribs

Place one long piece of sparerib on baking dish. Place stuffing in meat. Place another long piece of sparerib over stuffing. Season with salt, pepper, garlic salt and other spices as desired. (Basil, thyme, etc.). Cover with aluminum foil.

Bake in 375-degree oven for 1-½ hours.

Lana’s Home Stew

  • 2 lbs. Stewing meat
  • 4 potatoes
  • 3 small parsnips
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 1/4 small cabbage
  • ½ small turnip
  • 4 ½ cups water
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 4 teaspoons Oxo
  • 1/8 cup steak sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed

Coat meat with flour and brown in butter with garlic.

Remove meat from pan. Pour water into pan and bring to boil. Add Oxo, spices, ketchup, steak sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Mix ½ cup water with 3 tablespoons of flour. Add to boiling mixture and stir until thick.

Add vegetables and meat. Simmer for 1-½ hours.

Spaghetti Sauce

  • 1 24 oz. Can tomato sauce
  • 1 12 oz. Can tomato paste
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1-3 teaspoons barbecue spice
  • 3 medium onions (chopped)
  • 1 green pepper (chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • 1 lb. Ground beef

Add all ingredients except ground beef to a large pot. Fill two cans with water and add to pot. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat and let simmer 3 – 4 hours uncovered.

In a frying pan cook ground beef. Drain grease. Add ground beef to spaghetti sauce mixture.

Cabbage Rolls

  • 1 Head sour cabbage
  • 1 lb. Ground beef
  • ½ lb. Ground pork
  • 3 cups rice (not instant rice)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 2 tsp. Salt
  • ½ tsp. Pepper
  • 1 tsp. Garlic salt

Mix all ingredients except cabbage. Roll in cabbage leaves. Place rolls in roasting pan. Cover with water. Bake in 325-degree oven for 3 – 4 hours.

New Fried Potatoes

  1. Scrape tiny new potatoes. Wash.
  2. In frying pan chop onions in ¼ cup melted butter. Add potatoes.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium-low heat until potatoes are soft. (20 – 30 minutes).

A little water can be added to prevent potatoes from sticking.

Potato Pancakes

  • 2 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, grated
  • ½ green pepper, grated
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons flour

Mix all ingredients well. Form into ball. Pat into pancakes. Fry in butter until pancakes are crisp.

Fried Pork Chops

  • 5 pork chops
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion
  • salt, pepper and garlic salt
  • Flour
  • Egg

Coat pork chops in egg, then flour. Slice onions and sauté in a frying pan with butter. Place pork chops in frying pan and season to taste. Brown evenly. Turn heat to low and continue cooking until chops are cooked. (Approx. 35 minutes). Add a little water to pan to prevent sticking.

Bread and Bun Recipes


Homemade Bread or Buns

  • 1½ cups of lard
  • 2 yeast mixtures*
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons salt
  • 20 cups flour
  • 4 eggs (beaten)
  • 8 cups water

*Yeast mixture:

  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon yeast.

Mix sugar in water. Sprinkle yeast over. Let rise.

Melt lard in small pan. Add flour, sugar and salt together in large mixing bowl. When lard has melted add lard, eggs, yeast mixture and water to flour. Mix and knead until dough is smooth and elastic. Cover and let rise until doubled in size. Knead dough. Cover and let rise again for about an hour.

This recipe makes 8 loaves of bread.

Cut dough into eight pieces. Shape into loaves and place in loaf pans. Cover and let rise again 1 hour.

Bake in 325 – degree oven for 30 – 45 minutes or until golden brown. Brush loaves with butter.

Bread Noodles

Melt ¼ cup of butter with ¼ cup water. Roll bread dough into small rolls. Place in frying pan. Thinly slice a medium potato. Place on top. Cover to steam and cook 20 minutes. (When they start to sizzle let cook covered another 5 minutes). Take off stove.

Dip in plum fruit juice. (Delicious!!)


 Perogies and Noodle Dishes


Perogy Dough

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup water

Mix until smooth and elastic. Make two balls. Roll out 1 ball in a square as thin as possible without breaking dough. Cut into 3-inch squares. Place filling inside. Pull dough over filling and press corner together. Press sides to make a filled triangle. Boil water in a large pot. Place perogies into boiling water. When they rise to top, let cook another five minutes. Drain.


Cottage Cheese

  • 1 16 oz. Pkg. Dry cottage cheese
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

In a frying pan melt ¼ cup butter. Cut 1 piece of bread into small cubes. Fry until crisp. Pour over finished perogies.

Traditional Filling:

  • 8 potatoes (boiled until soft)
  • 1 lb. Medium cheddar cheese
  • 1 large onion (sautéed in butter until soft)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

When potatoes are cooked mash with grated cheese. Add onions. Salt and pepper to taste. Mix together until mixture is smooth. Melt butter and pour over cooked perogies.

Serve with sour cream and bacon bits.


Using the Egg & Onion perogy dough you can:

  1. Roll out dough. Spread butter over dough. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Roll up (like a jellyroll). Cut into ½ inch rolls. In a frying pan melt ¼ cup of butter with ¼ cup water. Add noodles and thinly sliced medium potato. Cover and cook over medium low heat for about 20 minutes. When noodles begin to sizzle cook another 5 minutes and remove. These can replace potatoes or rice as a different side dish to serve.
  2. Using the Cheese dough – tear off small chunks of dough roll and add to boiling salted water and boiled potatoes. When noodles float to top, cook another few minutes then drain. In a frying pan melt ¼ cup butter and cut 1 piece of bread into cubes. Fry until crispy. Pour over noodles. Serve with sauerkraut.

Egg and Onion Perogies


  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder

Mix until smooth and elastic. Roll out. Cut into 3” squares.


  • 2 large onions
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 1-cup bread crumbs

Fry onions slightly in butter. Add breadcrumbs and eggs. Stir until cooked.

In a frying pan add 2 tablespoons butter to 1-cup water. Bring to boil. Add noodles and cover. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes on medium heat.

Grandma Julia Messer’s Knoephles


  • All-purpose flour
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Saltine crackers
  • Bacon grease

Directions: For each cup of flour, use 1 egg and 1 cup of milk. Mix flour, egg, and milk to form a stiff dough. (Pour in the milk a little at a time; you don’t want the dough too “soupy”.) Drop by spoonfuls into boiling water. When they float, they’re done. Remove & drain.

While water is heating, place Saltines between sheets of waxed paper & crush with rolling pin. Roll the dumplings in cracker crumbs. Melt a little bacon grease in cast-iron skillet and lightly brown the knoephles.


Strudels, Kuchens and Desserts


These recipes were made for our family when holiday time came along. We rarely had desert outside of Sundays, and most of the time the dessert was mom’s canned fruit. At Christmas time and Easter, especially, we had puffed wheat squares, matrimonial cake, poppyseed roll or apple streudel.

Ammonium Cookies

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1½ cup sugar

Mix together until creamy, then add:

  • 1/2 t soda
  • 1½ t baking powder
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 1/4 t cloves
  • 1½ t bakers ammonia

Add flour to make a stiff medium dough. Chill. Roll out rather thick and cut. Optional–brush with light cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350 until lightly browned.

Puffed Wheat Squares

Required: 9 x 12 greased pan and a large pot.

  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 8 cups puffed wheat
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

In a large pot, melt butter, and add syrup, sugar, cocoa and vanilla. When syrup bubbles, remove from heat and add wheat puffs. Put in the pan and press with a buttered spoon to make it even. Cut into squares and serve.

French Cream Pie (Commercial Sour Cream)

In a saucepan, boil 1 cup raisins with just enough water to cover.Boil for as long as it takes to plump up the raisins. Maybe 5-8 minutes.

Remove from stove. Add the following ingredients to the raisins:

  • 3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt

Mix in 3 Egg yolks with rubber scrapper. (Save Whites for Meringue). Add: 1 Cup Sour Cream.
Return to stove and bring to a boil. Remove from stove and add 1 teaspoon Baking Soda.

Pour into a baked pie shell. Let Cool completely.Top with Never Fail Meringue to which 1/3 Teaspoon Cinnamon has been added.

Never Fail Meringue:

  • 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
  • 1/2 Cup Boiling Water
  • 6 Tablespoons Sugar
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Cold Water
  • 3 Egg Whites
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
  1. Blend cornstarch and cold water in a saucepan.
  2. Add boiling water and cook stirring until clear and thickened
  3. Let stand until completely cold
  4. With electric beater at high spead, beat egg whites until foamy.
  5. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff
  6. Turn mixer to to low speed, add
  7. Salt and Vanilla
  8. Gradually beat in cornstarch mixture.
  9. Turn mixer again to high speed and beat well.
  10. Spread mixture over cooled pie filling.
  11. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.


Strudel and Kuchen


  • 8 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking powder (heaping)
  • 1 cup salad oil
  • 1 cup powdered milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • Potato water*
  • Yeast mixture**

**Yeast Mixture

  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Mix sugar in water. Sprinkle yeast on top. Let rise.

*Potato Water

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 medium potato sliced

Bring to boil and cook until potato is soft. Mash potato in water very smoothly.

Mix and knead ingredients together until dough is a smooth, elastic consistency. Cover and let rise until about double in size. Punch down & knead again. Let rise about l hour. Cut dough into four sections. Cover until ready to use.

Flaky Strudel Dough

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Warm water (enough to make smooth dough)

Place dough on floured towel and spread oil over top of dough. Place plastic warp over dough. Let sit. Stretch dough a thin as possible (this requires two people) without tearing.

Filling: 1 pkg. Dry cottage cheese. 3 eggs. ¾ cup sugar. ¾ tsp. Salt. ½ cup cream. Mix and spread over stretched strudel dough. Roll up and spread top of dough with melted butter. Grease a cookie sheet. Bake 25 minutes in a 350-degree oven.

Strudel Fillings

Prune Filling:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 package pitted prunes

Cover prunes with water. Simmer about 1 hour or until prunes are soft. Mix in other ingredients until smooth mixture. (Let prunes cool, then mix and squash together with hands).

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface. Spread ¼ of prune mixture on top. Fold over until prunes are covered. Place on a lightly greased pan. Repeat, to make 3 more strudels. Makes 4.

Bake 325-degree oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until dough is light golden brown.

Can be frozen.

Apple Filling:

  • 2 ½ pounds tart apples
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 1 tablespoon lemon rind
  • 1 cup ground almonds
  • ½ cup bread crumbs

Peel and core apples. Slice half the apples very thinly. Coarsely grate rest into bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Spread ¼ onto dough. Roll up. Place on greased pan.

Bake 350-degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Can be frozen.

Kuchen Fillings

Plum Kuchen

  • 1/3 cup vanilla custard
  • 8 plums cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour

Place one piece of dough (rolled out) on a pie plate. Spread custard over dough. Mix remaining ingredients together and place over custard. Bake 325-degree oven for 20 minutes. Makes 1 kuchen.

Cinnamon Kuchen

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ piece bread, ground into fine crumbs

Place 1 piece dough into pie plate. Sprinkle cinnamon mixture over dough. Drizzle melted butter over top. Bake 325-degree oven for 20 minutes. Makes 1 kuchen.

Cottage Cheese Kuchen

  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all ingredients together. Place 1 piece dough into pie plate. Pour mixture over dough. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Dot with butter. Bake in 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Cinnamon Rolls

  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 pieces of bread , ground into fine crumbs
  • ½ cup melted butter

Mix all ingredients together to make a thick paste. Cut (Strudel Dough) into two portions. Roll out each portion as thin as possible without tearing. Spread paste over dough. Roll up. Slice roll at 2-inch intervals. Place into baking pan. Bake 350-degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

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